27 December 2006


New York Christmas #3 is past, and for the third year in a row it was a brown Christmas.

The weather was in the upper 30s and it rained all day. It was more of the same yesterday, though we did get a light dusting of snow last night (26 December). It will be gone by the afternoon, and, if the weather men are right, it will be the last snow we get for at least another ten days.

This has been one of the warmest late autumn/early winters on record. (surprise, surprise...)

Here are the weather statistics for December (including the forecast temperatures for the next four days):

1 day with a normal high temperature
3 days with high temperatures below normal
27 days with high temperatures above normal (22 of these were at least 5 degrees above normal)

2 days with low temperatures below normal
29 days with low temperatures above normal

17 days with high temperatures in the 40s (13 of these after 8 December)
7 days with high temperatures in the 50s
5 days with high temperatures in the 30s
1 day with high temperatures in the 20s
1 day with high temperatures in the 60s

Our average low on 1 December is 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, it is much lower on 31 December (15 degrees Fahrenheit). Incredibly, we experienced temperatures below 24 only four times during the entire month. The point is that this month has been ridiculous. What's scarier is that it was like this in 2004, six weeks were like this in mid-winter last year, and, so far, we have had eight weeks of this weather in the winter of 2006-2007.

I am angry, scared, and depressed about global warming. I have felt its effects in both Texas and New York. The freaky weather of years like 2004, 2005, and 2006 is no longer "unseasonable." The fact is that this is our new "normal" weather.

I like cold weather. I like snow. I don't like excessive heat and drought. However, I think that my home is becoming more like north-western Virginia than central New York. I think that northern New England is becoming more like central New York. The scariest thing is that the changes are not stopping. In 50 years, my area could be like Raleigh, North Carolina. ...but what about 50 years after that?

I don't know what is going to happen to the world, but I know that something is going to have to give.

18 December 2006

It took me long enough...

A month later than planned, I finally planted the remainder of my flower bulbs. The last to go in were some 'Dutch Master' Narcissi. My only concern is that I didn't plant them deep enough. (too many rocks) The recommended depth was eight inches, but I only put them down five or six. I guess time will tell whether they'll endure!

15 December 2006

Reforestation Project

As I mentioned in the previous post, I was looking at a website linked to ThatRoundhouse.info. Interestingly, the website (http://www.konsk.co.uk/) discussed a small reforestation project.

Currently, I am in the process of reforesting between 2 and 2.5 acres (around 1 hectare) of land. This spring, I will be planting trees ordered from the Saratoga Tree Nursery and our local Soil and Water Conservation District. Though I haven't finalized my decision, I'm planning on planting:

250 Eastern White Pines (native to our farm)
250 Norway Spruces (native to Europe, but very well adapted)
100 Concolor Firs (native to Southwestern North America)

I'm also considering Blue and White Spruces (Picea pungens and glauca, respectively). Both of these species are native to North America, the latter being found in our area.

There are a number of challenges to selecting species. First and foremost is global warming. Our climate has become increasingly warmer. Currently, we are in the American Horticultural Society's Heat Zone 4. I think it is likely that we will be in Heat Zone 6 before the end of my lifetime. That is too warm for some of the species that are currently in the area, but at the extreme southern end of their range. These include Tamarack (Larix laricina), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and the aforementioned White Spruce.

There are additional considerations including site and soil characteristics. While I would like to (re)establish a mixed hard- and softwood forest, it is extremely difficult to establish hardwoods. After extensive research and speaking with area foresters, I came to the conclusion that planting colonizer species is a better strategy. In 30 to 50 years, forest hardwoods will begin to establish themselves. For now, I will transplant Quaking Aspens (Populus tremuloides) and native Cherries (Prunus spp.) to the areas between the conifer plantings.

Before I can plant trees in the reforestation area, I have to clear the old vineyard. This involves removing wires, posts, and vines. I began this task in November, worked hard around Thanksgiving, and have continued on the weekends. It will be complete by the end of the year...

In the end, I am hoping to establish a forest that will serve as wildlife habitat, a shady retreat, and a place to commune with nature. While we have access to (and will someday inherit) 20 acres of forest up the hill, it is too far from the house to reach quickly (about a 15 minute walk if the ground is dry). For this reason, I look forward to establishing a small wooded area near the house.


I was looking at some web pages linked to That Roundhouse when I came across the concept of "permaculture." Apparently, it's the idea of "permanent agriculture." It is a reaction against industrial agriculture and the loss of the notion of "community." Permaculture attempts to replicate natural plant systems, though some use these simply as a starting point. I think it is a good idea, and am interested in learning more. It is much less intensive (so its proponents claim) than "traditional" agriculture. I don't know if I agree but I'd like to try it to find out.

13 December 2006

The forecast high temperatures for the next two weeks are in the 40s and 50s, ten to twenty degrees warmer than the 30-year average. So far, we have received 2 inches of snow this year.

It's like I'm back in Georgia.

08 December 2006

Last post of the night...

Okay, last post of the night.

For quite some time, I've wanted to build a small structure as a "get-away." My plan is to build it on the farm and make it into my office/personal space. The kicker is that I want it to be a yurt...

Well, maybe not a yurt...but something like one. I have a thing for round structures. I've been researching them for years, and want to build one out of masonry materials. Over time, I've come up with a design that combines a Diné hooghan, a Mongolian ger (yurt), and an Algonquian wikwam. I'm not sure that it would be practical to build, but I really want to! We'll see if it ever comes to fruition...

07 December 2006

Adirondack 46'ers

This summer, a man I work with told me about the Adirondack 46'ers. He explained that it's a club of people who have climbed New York's highest peaks.

After a lengthy procrastination, I finally got around to researching the club on the web. It was interesting to read about the group's history. In fact, the idea that there are 46 peaks higher than 4,000 feet is incorrect. Actually there are 45. Forty-three of these are Adirondack peaks. Historical intricacies aside, it was very interesting reading. I encourage you to visit their website.

Blizzard? What blizzard?

7 December A.D. 2006 - 08:30: As expected, zero inches of snow accumulated last night. The predicted storm totals have been lowered from 5 to 11 inches down to 4 to 8 inches. As was the case last night, I will be surprised if we recieve half of that amount...

7 December A.D. 2006 - 23:30: Accumulation thus far: 1 inch. Despite the fact that the weathermen are STILL forecasting another 3 to 6 inches, it is extremely clear outside. I just took a walk with the pups, and it was wonderful. The current temperature is 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and the moon is nearly full. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a full moon on a clear, cold night.

06 December 2006

A Touch of Winter

Yesterday (Tuesday, 5 December) we awoke to a light dusting of snow for the second consecutive morning. This makes four dustings that we have received this year. Historically, our location averaged about 8 inches of snow in the month of November. This year (and the two previous years) we received very little. However, it appears that winter is on its way (for a little while). Forecasters are predicting that 5 to 11 inches of snow will accumulate over tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night. I would guess that they're exaggerating, and expect to receive no more than 3 inches. In fact, I won't be surprised if we get less than two. Nonetheless, I am excited and can't wait to go walking in the white stuff!

P.S. I'm am going to attempt to take pictures of the snow with my mother-in-law's digital camera. If successful, I can finally get some pictures up on the site!

03 December 2006

30 November 2006

Favorite Article

I think that my favorite magazine article of all time is "ANWR: The Great Divide." It is found in the October 2005 issue of Smithsonian. If you haven't read it, seek it out. Both the writing and photography are excellent.

Yet another weather update!

Today, high temperatures are expected to approach 70 degrees Fahrenheit in central New York.

The past nine days, high temperatures have been a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (many have been significantly higher). These measurements represent temperatures from 5 to 30 degrees above normal. In total, November 2006 had about 20 days of significantly higher than normal temperatures. Around 5 were near normal, and around 5 were below.

Ironically, September was one of the coldest on record. Despite that, 2006 is still one of the 3 warmest years on record. After November, it will likely be the warmest.

Global warming is upon us. Human activity is the central reason for the rate of warming, and the sole reason for the unprecedented increase in Carbon Dioxide buildup. If we do not alter our current ways, we will destroy the earth for future generations. Act now, we do not have time to wait.

20 November 2006

Finally, a little more snow!

After two weeks of unseasonable and near-record warmth, we've finally returned to more normal conditions. It snowed off-and-on yesterday, and last night (19 November) we received a dusting of the white stuff. As is usual after snowfalls, it was beautiful this morning.

17 November 2006

Good job, Alberta.

Republic of Alberta

Long delay...

Wow, it's been more than two weeks since I last created a post. Since my last typing, the weather has been awful, the American Republican Party lost control of the legislative branch, and I've been busy rearranging papers at work...

I've also been busy reading C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. After a long hiatus, I resumed the series by checking out books from a public library. I've nearly finished the set, and have enjoyed each book immensely...

02 November 2006

The ground is white!

It began snowing late this afternoon. After an hour-long squall, a little more than half an inch had accumulated. Much to my surprise, it's still there after three and a half hours! I guess the ground is colder than I thought it was!

After today's event, I can record the date of the first snow accumulation as 2 November A.D. 2006.

30 October 2006

Castanea dentata

On Friday, I received fifteen American Chestnuts (Castanea dentata) from the American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation. For a donation of $20.00 U.S.D., they will send you fifteen nuts for planting. These nuts come from 100% American parentage. The mother trees are resistant to Chestnut Blight, and the A.C.C.F. anticipates that at least 10% of the offspring will be blight resistant. For those of you who do not know, American Chestnuts were once a dominant species in eastern North American hardwood forests. Around A.D. 1900, Chesnut Blight (a lethal fungus) was introduced to the United States from Asia. Within fifty years, more than 99% of the naturally occurring trees were dead.

For more information, visit the
American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation. The American Chestnut Foundation is a similar organization. Both groups seek to restore the chestnut to its former glory.

Where did it go?

Where did the weekend go? I had planned on planting the rest of my bulbs on Saturday and Sunday. It's Monday and the bulbs are still on my kitchen table.

Despite the lack of progress, it was still a good weekend. Sunday produced the first snow of the year. (on our farm; I had already seen some at work)

In addition, I was able to mow the weed bed-errr...vegetable garden-in preparation for tilling in the Spring.

Regarding this year's "firsts," here are the statistics:

First light frost: 29 September
First hard frost: 6 October
First snow: 29 October
First snow accumulation: ??? (2 November)

I haven't found the date of this year's last frost (I misplaced my information folder). However, I believe that it was 7 May. I do remember that it was well below freezing.

If I use the above dates, there were 151 consecutive frost-free days in the 2006 growing season.

Last Autumn, the dates were as follows:

First light frost: 20 October
First hard frost: 28 October
First snow: 25 October
First snow accumulation: ??? (in that missing information folder)
Snow on Christmas? Sort of. There was slush on the ground that morning, but it was gone by evening. It was in the 40s and rained all day...

I think that's enough weather reporting for one posting...

27 October 2006

A Hard Frost

Winter is on its way. Yesterday, I saw the first snowflakes of the season. This morning, it was 22°F at my farm. The scene was that of a winter wonderland. Everything was covered in a thick white frost, and I couldn't help but to think that this is the most wonderful time of year.

I still have twenty-four tulip bulbs to be planted. Twelve are Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder', and twelve are a variety of Tulipa clusiana ('Lady'?). In addition, I have dozens of cloves of both 'German Red' and 'Spanish Roja' garlic. Finally, I have fifteen 'Dutch Master' daffodils. I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

In regard to traditional bulbs, I much prefer "botanical" over "garden" varieties. They tend to require little maintenance, naturalize well, and look just as beautiful as their hybridized cousins. I am especially fond of crocuses, particularly Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' and Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'. This autumn, I planted twenty-four corms of Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch'. Spring will tell whether they deserve mention with 'Blue Pearl' and 'Ruby Giant.'

24 October 2006

Another day at the office...

Currently, I'm sitting at my desk, in my cubicle, in what amounts to a long hallway with no windows. To say I'm bored would be an understatement. I was going to go home at noon today, but my boss called (ironically, from her home; she's SUPPOSED to be off of work today) and loaded me down with more papers to rearrange. So, as I wait to hear back from her, I decided to vent a little frustration.

Did God really intend for us to live like this? As a historian, it is interesting to note the steady decline in leisure time, freedom, and equality since humans stopped hunting and gathering. True, there has been an increase in both health and affluence, but I think I'd trade those things for less "industrial" stress...

...I came upon the blog RightForScotland earlier. It's the political blog of a "centre of right" commentator from Glasgow. It's interesting to read the thoughts of a similarly-aged but Scottish male. There was a lot of rhetoric in his posts, and I received the impression that he supports the kind of social and working conditions that existed around the turn of the century...

Regarding this blog, I am pulled in multiple directions. I have considered focusing on one of two areas: politics or gardening. However, I am leaning toward writing about a variety of topics (including those that I mentioned). Undoubtedly, any political commentary would alienate some readers. Still, part of the point of this blog is to vent my frustrations, triumphs, joys, and sorrows. I doubt if a direction will soon be established, and I welcome your thoughts on the issue.

23 October 2006

Gàidhlig na h-Alba

I have a number of Scottish ancestors. MacGregor, MacLaren, and Harris (Campbell) are all in my background. As I became more interested in genealogy, so grew my interest in the languages of my ancestors. For the past few years, I've been slowly learning Gàidhlig na h-Alba (Scottish Gaelic, or "Gaelic of Scotland"). Gàidhlig's origins lie in the immigration of Gaelic speakers from Ireland around the time of the birth of Jesus. By A.D. 500, Gàidhlig was established in the Western Isles and parts of the mainland. It continued to spread until around A.D. 1200, when Middle English dialects began to displace it in the Lowlands. Within a couple of hundred years, Gàidhlig was confined to the Western Isles and Highlands. Today, it is even losing ground in those areas. The number of speakers has plummeted, though there is still hope for its survival. In 2005, Gàidhlig received official recognition as a language of Scotland. There is an increasing number of Scottish Gaelic resources, and a new generation of Scots (and emigrated Scots) with an interest in their ancestral language.

19 October 2006

A day later and I still remember my password!

I haven't told my wife that I created a blog. She thinks they're "stupid" and that only narcissists have them. This may explain my fascination with them..

As I mentioned in my first posting, the Empress of Dirt's site was the catalyst for me creating a blog. I found out about it when someone in my office emailed me an electronic newsletter. It encouraged readers to visit her site "just for fun." I did (hoping to kill some time) and was inspired. I could write a whole posting about the Empress, but I'll save that for another day.

The site that came to mind as I explored the Empress of Dirt's place was Paghat's Garden. I don't know if it classifies as a blog or not, but I do know that it is "freaking awesome." I began using it some years ago (when I still lived in Texas), and have continued to use it to this day.

Dave's Garden is another great website. Are there any others that I'm missing?

18 October 2006

Entry number one.

Éste es el primer fijación en mi "blog."

Today is the first day that I have used a blog website. I've known about them for quite some time, but I've never considered creating my own. This afternoon, after visiting the Empress of Dirt's site, I decided that I'd give blogging a try.